Screenplay & Direction
Cinematography & BGM
A Dauntless Innings!
Jeeva is a cocktail of emotions masquerading as a sports film. It has an out- and-out romantic first half and a gripping, poignant second half centered on nepotism in cricket selection. Jeeva, if not Suseenthiran's best performance, is definitely a brisk innings worth watching.
Cast: Vishnu, Sri Divya, Soori, T. Siva, Lakshman Narayan, Marimuthu, Harish, Vinoth Kishan, Sanjay Bharathi & Others
Editing: Antony L Ruben
Production: The Next Big Film & Vennila Kabadi Team
Distribution: Arya’s The Show People & Vishal’s VFF
Release Date: 26-09-2014
Run Time: 02:07:00
Suseenthiran’s Jeeva is a cocktail of emotions masquerading as a sports film. It has an out- and-out romantic first half and a gripping, poignant second half centered on politics in cricket selection, which seems like a reality check for aspiring cricketers now.
Very few directors work with stars and comeback to non-stars with the same approach. Director Suseenthiran has done that convincingly throughout his career. His ability to knit an extraordinary screenplay out of ordinary situations has always been commendable and the trend continues in Jeeva too.
The success of Jeeva is its relatable, simple and quite an honest story-line. We live in a country where the majority are of the opinion that ‘Cricket is a religion and Sachin is its god’. Suseenthiran has beautifully conveyed it in a scene where the teashop owner hopelessly switches his TV off the moment Sachin gets out in a chasing match. Wasn’t it a norm in every Indian household in the 90s? Jeeva (Vishnu), as a kid, starts practicing the game with a rubber ball; precisely, a pepsi ball – a middle-class favorite for its affordability. A group of kids include one-pitched catch, hitting beyond a specific area, ‘leaving three balls continuously without hitting’ as rules to get the wicket of a batsman. Suseenthiran has played to the gallery by capturing these minutest details in his narration that make the film wholly accessible. In fact, these scenes will bring back sweet memories of your childhood, if you have a ‘cricket’ chapter in it.
The only regret in the film is its wild-eyed first half, which primarily deals about the love-story between Jeeva and Jenny (Sridivya). In fact, the first half never gels with the film thanks to its time-worn romance between the leads. One wishes Suseenthiran stayed true to his genre here instead of this conspicuous compromise. But, the silver-lining in the first half is Suseenthiran’s genuine portrayal of the lifestyle of middle-class households, who strive against tempting situations.
The second half brims with a gamut of emotions – father-son, between lovers, between friends, coach-player, mother-son. But, they all occur so organically, that you overlook clichés accompanying it. Suseenthiran’s ability to move his audiences to tears by just kindling the right emotions without any contrivances is a rarity in Tamil cinema, which is plagued by manipulatively devised scenes of late. The second half gives a complete feel to the film and its genre. Suseenthiran establishes the growth of Vishnu as a cricketer so well and it has come out perfectly on screen. A lot of subtle references to the largely prevalent caste politics and nepotism in Tamil Nadu cricket association is Suseenthiran at his gutsy best and will raise many eyebrows after release. His uncomplicated approach towards the most complex issues is refreshing.
The caste versus politics angle is handled neatly sans any over-the-top sermons. The caste factor is dealt brilliantly with no-nonsense, rational comments on the issue courtesy dialogue writer Santhosh.
Vishnu fits the bill perfectly as a cricketer and we could not think of a better actor for this particular role. Sridivya’s cherubic face and angelic expressions make her adorable on screen. Lakshman Narayan as Vishnu’s friend deserves a mention and Charlie as Vishnu’s foster father and Madhusudhan Rao as the shrewd selection committee head have chipped in with good performances too. But, the loveliest performance from the supporting characters comes from Marimuthu who plays Vishnu’s father.
Madhie’s cinematography has seized the right cricketing moments in the second half with a great flair. Also, brownie points to Editor Anthony Ruben for keeping the film’s runtime at just around two hours. He has also made the cricketing moments in the second half captivating with skillful cuts. Imman’s background score is adequately good, just like the film’s songs.
Jeeva, if not Suseenthiran’s best performance, is definitely a brisk innings worth watching.
Written by Surendhar MK
Jeeva Movie Review Rating: 3.25/5